I have spent the last several months (including many weekends and nights) working on the artwork for my first picture book, Summoning the Phoenix.  The last few weeks have been especially intense because it was my final push to wrap up the project and that’s why I haven’t posted anything in a while.  But now I can happily announce that I have FINALLY FINISHED!!!!  WOOHOO!!!  And yes, it feels sooooo good to cross the finish line.  All the image files have been sent off to the publisher and now I am just waiting to see the proofs. 

But before I go into further detail about my experience, I would like to thank Renee Ting at Shen’s Books and Emily Jiang, the author, for giving me the opportunity to work on this wonderful book.  I worked extremely hard to bring Emily’s words to life and I cannot wait to see the final book which will be released September of this year.

Now back to my lessons learned.  As I filed away all my research material, wiped the graphite off my desk, and vacuumed the eraser crumbs from my floor this morning, I had time to reflect on my first picture book experience.   And here are a few things that I learned:

1) Creating picture books is tough work.  I may be stating the obvious here but until I actually started working on a picture book, I didn’t truly understand how tough it really was.  This book in particular required a lot of research since it is nonfictional story about rather obscure musical instruments.  I had to make sure that all the musical instruments and how they were played were accurately depicted.  The story also involves thirteen students, many audience members, and one conductor.  It was challenging but important to keep all the characters consistent throughout the book.  To sum it up, many of the illustrations took waaaaaaaaay longer than I had anticipated.  And towards the end I could feel myself getting pretty burnt out which leads me to my next point…

2) Don’t save the most complicated, difficult illustrations until the very end.  The last illustration I worked on is a concert scene with a 36-piece orchestra and a full audience.  I knew that it was really going to knock the wind out of me so I thought it would be a good idea to save it until the very end when I was already pretty worn out from working on the rest of the book.  Hmmmm…not a good idea.   It would have been much wiser to start off with easier illustrations to build up my confidence and then tackle the more challenging ones towards the middle of the process, and then finish once again with easier ones.

3) Remember to take breaks!  This is a simple advice that I seemed to have ignored.  It was so hard to step away from what I was working on because I really wanted to get as much completed as possible all the time.  But seriously, a break here and there would have been kinder to my body, helped my productivity, and increased my energy levels.

Now it’s time to celebrate and relax for a little bit!!  Then I jump back to work on my next picture book with Creston Books, Village by the Sea.  But before I sign off, here is a little fun exercise and another sneak peek from my new book.

I had to make a slight change in one of my illustrations.  Can you spot the difference?